Volume 3, Chapter
Traditionalist Stirs Bishops in Mexico"
Manuel Castella Ramirez
16 January 1981 – The Catholic Review
Mexico’s bishops protested against the surprise visit of suspended
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to the country, where he has illicitly
celebrated Tridentine Rite Masses and confirmed children.
Superior of the Holy Ghost Fathers was suspended in 1976 for Pope
Paul VI for his rejection of Vatican Council II position on the
liturgy and religious freedom.1
He has continued to preach his views and celebrate Mass according
to the Tridentine Rite rather than the New Mass based on conciliar
He was refused
entry to Mexico during a tour of Latin America in 1977. Immigration
spokesmen said that he was allowed to enter this time with a tourist
denied his request to celebrate Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of
Guadalupe. But he has confirmed 2,000 Indian children and adults
at Ojitlan, Oaxaca, and celebrated a Tridentine Rite Mass in Latin
in a church near Mexico City. His Mexican followers said they had
scheduled similar Masses for the Archbishop in other cities in ten
Alamilla, secretary of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, said
the nation's bishops "regret and lament the activities of the
dissident Archbishop" and warned Catholics not to attend his
Masses. Archbishop Bartolome Carrasco of Oaxaca said of the prelate's
visit to Ojitlan that "it is divisive for Catholics in the
area, already burdened by social and economic problems."
two political parties disagreed.
will not reach many people, he knows most Catholics rally around
Pope John Paul II," said Jesus Zamora Flores of the Mexican
Democratic Party. Congressman Hiram Ascudro of the Accion Nacional
Pary, which has many Catholic members, said that “the media
is giving too much importance to the presence among us of Lefebvre,
whose influence is weak.”
every major daily, or magazine has headlined the Archbishop's surprise
visit, with some saying his views are healthy for the survival of
Catholicism. Others have been critical of the visit. Archbishop
Lefebvre contends that Church reforms weaken the faith of the people.
Carrasco warned that the suspended Archbishop has no faculties to
administer the sacraments or celebrate Mass.
Lefebvre in Mexico2
in Mexico had several times asked me to come and give Confirmation.
The situation is that in Mexico Catholics in some parishes have
turned their priests out, because they broke up the statues in the
churches, celebrated bizarre liturgies, took no interest in catechizing,
and refused to baptize babies. The example
So I gave in
to these requests and agreed to go to Mexico in January and spent
almost three weeks there. We landed at Veracruz, where a man called
Pedro, with the help of a small group of Catholics, had turned the
priests out of his parish. Some people had protested against this,
so the government had put Pedro in jail. The Catholics demonstrated
on his behalf, staged a sit-down strike in front of the jail and
got him released. He was scarcely out of jail when fresh hostility
flared up from the progressivist clergy. Again Pedro went to jail
and again the Catholics went on strike and got him released. Then
suddenly the situation reversed itself, and Pedro was put in charge
of the parish – by the authorities themselves. He keeps the
keys, he rings the bells, and organizes the Masses and other functions.
I spent three wonderful days in this parish and gave 1,200 confirmations.
Then we went
to a "village" of 46,000 inhabitants. There too the faithful
have turned their priests out. When we arrived, they told us, “What
we want are priests like you, priests like before, who don't destroy
our statues, who teach true doctrine and say the Old Mass.”
These people gave us an overwhelming reception. The air was full
of banners, paper lanterns and torches, a deluge of confetti, military
salutes, bands playing and fireworks!
included six parishes. In five of them, the Catholics have their
priests out, while the sixth is still in the hands of the Modernists.
When the local bishop learned I was there, he came to this parish
(which he had not visited for a long time) and in a sudden burst
of apostolic zeal invited the faithful to come, promising them a
beautiful ceremony and confirmations. Not a single parishioner accepted
the Bishop's invitation. Meanwhile I had 850 confirmations in the
church next door.
naturally easy-going, but they are getting more and more disillusioned
with the nonsense of the Modernists. Some time ago, Bishop Arceo,
who is Archbishop of Cuernavaca, visited a parish in his diocese.
He went into the church, the main feature of which is a huge Spanish-style
crucifix in vivid colors, and surmounted by an arc of rays. The
bishop expressed a wish to replace this with a wooden crucifix,
which was admittedly in good taste. But he did not get his way.
The people lost no time in telling him in all possible bluntness,
“Not so fast, my Lord Bishop! You touch that crucifix and
we hang you!”
I gave altogether
2,500 confirmations in Mexico. Everywhere people begged, "Monseigneur,
you cannot abandon us!" So we must see what we can do.
Next we went
to Cordoba, then to Mexico. We visited Guadalajara, site of a free,
anti-communist university, attended by 30,000 students (10,000 natives
and 20,000 foreigners). One wonders how the government can tolerate
the existence of such a university. One is justified in asking such
questions when one realizes that it is supported by the Rockefeller
Foundation. Now it is well known that the financial generosity of
that organization goes along with a policy whose aim is to destroy
moral and Christian values in the world. The influential role played
by the Rockfeller Trust in the spread of contraceptives and abortion
has been pointed out. In the present instance, perhaps the money
has persuaded the recipients of it not to go too far towards a counter-revolution.
This would explain why at the University of Guadalajara you never
hear Christ the King mentioned and the demands of the Natural Law
and of the Christian Faith in the area of sexuality are conveniently
entire visit, we were shown the greatest courtesy and alertness
by the forces of law. Everywhere we went, we were closely followed
by a police car.
situation in that country is deplorable. Last year there were altogether
two ordinations for a country of 77 million!
In this area
I met unexpectedly a young priest (35 to 40 years old). It would
not have been easy to guess he was a priest, as he was quite portly
and wore a khaki jacket. He was introduced and then told me things
which I never frankly expected to hear. What he said, in effect,
was, “Monseigneur, I wanted very much to see you. You understand
that we live in a progressive environment here. Now I’m telling
you this because I know it is true: the Church here in only a veneer.
It's a façade with nothing behind it. All spiritual life
is gone. You are on the right track, you have the truth, you are
on the side of the Holy Ghost." I was certainly astonished
and yet happy to hear him speak in this way. But what could I say
to him in reply?
In Mexico City
they have built a new church at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Imagine an immense structure, entirely of concrete. And entirely
round. Inside, they have erected a very high podium. All round this,
there is a semi-circle of red velvet armchairs, sharply reclining.
They are almost couches, so that the priests seem to be lying down.
Yet in this position they celebrate Mass, except for the two or
three who remain standing.
image of the Blessed Virgin has been placed in this church, but
so high that, in order to see it, one must go behind the podium.
To do that, the best they could do was to install a moving belt.
This contraption whisks you along, and when you get to the image,
however much you wish to stop and pray, you cannot, because you
are carried swiftly away by this belt. And if you are trying to
keep your balance and can hardly look up, nothing. If they had wished
to ridicule the faithful they could not have been more successful.
But what is
very edifying is to see the devotion of the faithful. Sometimes
they come from far away and are very tired from the journey. Yet
they do not hesitate to get on their knees on the pavement outside
and make their way slowly indoors, praying and singing. One wonders
how the priests in charge, who claim to know so much pastoral psychology,
can ignore the mentality of these simple people and force them to
undergo all sorts of annoyances, such as the removal of the kneelers.
In the press
I was at first the object of outright hostility. The pack attacking
me most vigorously included some of the progressivist bishops. One
day an orthodox bishop, who was properly outraged at what was happening,
had an article published which said, in effect: “Catholic
bishops are always talking about charity. The one time they have
the chance to put it into practice regarding a confrère,
they shower him with abuse." His article had a great impact,
and the bishops afterwards showed a little more restraint. Little
by little the attitude has become more objective – I would
even say sympathetic – to the point where the situation seems
favorable for priests of the Society to be sent out to establish
I figure in
cartoons in several newspapers. In one example I was pictured as
an atomic bomb ready to explode, under which the Mexican bishops
were cowering and quivering, paralyzed with fear and getting smaller
The Archbishop was suspended for ordaining priests contrary to the
prohibition of Pope Paul VI, and for no other reason.
His Grace spoke informally to the faculty of the Ecole Saint-Michel
de Surins-Niherne about his visit to Mexico. From Fideliter, July/August
admittedly came from higher up, since the bishops themselves seem
to be "forgetting" to administer Confirmation.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109